HOOSIER SCOOP SAGE TAKE OF THE DAY, Nov. 19, 2012
Were not necessarily going to win it.
But should have been in it.
That’s the quick take on Indiana’s football fate Saturday at Penn State. Instead of 45-22, it maybe should have been about 45-35.
Cam Coffman threw for 454 yards and a pair of TDs and wasn’t good enough, as strange as it seems to say that in the context of such gaudy numbers.
It’s one thing to miss on a couple of short passes, when receivers are open and a first down is hanging in the balance — such as the series early on when the Hoosiers had a 10-7 lead, the ball, decent field position and a chance for some serious momentum.
That can happen to even veteran, proven quarterbacks, and nobody is expecting Coffman to be Joe Montana. Everybody’s human. Nobody’s perfect. Sometimes the biorhythms just aren’t right.
Even so, what shouldn’t happen is to have eight or 10 crucial plays like that, with open receivers missed inexplicably on “completable” short throws, the sort that are virtual handoffs in coach Kevin Wilson’s system.
Coffman completed 33 of 59 passes Saturday for a .559 percentage when it should probably have been around .669. And that’s the sort of thing that can not only get this particular team beat, but can make it non-competitive.
It is unfair to solely single Coffman out, and especially not to also acknowledge that he made several really fine plays, too, sometimes under pressure and sometimes in crucial situations. And he has generally dealt well with a very daunting situation this fall. But I think Coffman, who seems like a really admirable guy, would also acknowledge that he wasn’t good enough Saturday — and that, as the quarterback, he’s almost always going to get more than his share of either credit or blame, anyhow.
There was also almost no running game. And the other, even larger, element of Indiana’s game that proved fatal Saturday was, of course, the defense. The linebacking play, especially, seemed subpar. When your linebacker can’t tackle their wideout (even one who will play on Sunday) despite having a clear shot, and what should have been no-gain or a loss turns into a 53-yard TD to give PSU the lead for good, it ain’t good.
And that sort of thing happened repeatedly for the second straight week.
Have the still-youthful Hoosiers hit a bit of a wall? Maybe. They gave such admirable effort during the first couple of months this season but, again, they’re human. Some things aren’t always sustainable, no matter how much desire is applied.
They really didn’t play all that great against Illinois and Iowa in recent weeks, even when they won. And they played better than some folks might think earlier in the season during some losses (Navy and Ball State come to mind).
But the defense frankly looked tired at times, or even a lot of the time, against Wisconsin and again on Saturday.
Other elements play into all this, of course, not the least of which is the opposition. Wisconsin and Penn State are pretty doggone good, big, experienced, mature, physical, solid football teams.
Be that as it may, Coffman is capable of better. So is the defense. They showed that earlier in the season.
They need to show it again this week. Because the Old Oaken Bucket is always worth playing for, especially when capturing it would supply some further validation to some of the progress the IU program has shown this fall.
More easy completions made. More tackles made. More plays made. One more valiant effort. Not too much to ask of the Hoosiers. Or of the Hoosiers to ask of themselves.
And while Purdue will be slightly favored by the oddsmakers, and will have a bowl bid and perhaps coach Danny Hope’s job to play for, Hoosier fans have every right to view this week’s game this way for their team:
Should be in it.
Go ahead and win it.